Chevrolet Aims to Add to Victory Total at Scenic Barber
· Simon Pagenaud seeks to successfully defend Alabama title
ᴏ Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champ made it two wins in a row in ’16
· Chevrolet has won four of the five races run on the challenging circuit since Chevy’s VICS return in 2012
ᴏ Each of the current Team Penske drivers have won at Barber
· Team Chevy drivers have earned the pole position the past three years
ᴏ Pagenaud, Helio Castroneves, and Will Power started from front row
· Zach Veach to make Verizon IndyCar Series debut in No. 21 Chevrolet
DETROIT (April 19, 2017) – Momentum and consistency are keys in the pursuit of the Verizon IndyCar Series championship, and Josef Newgarden seeks to build upon his early-season performances this weekend at a racetrack where the first-year Team Penske driver carries momentum and consistency from previous years.
Newgarden claimed his maiden Verizon IndyCar Series victory at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, in 2015, and followed with a third-place showing last year. With a podium finish two weeks ago on the tight Long Beach street circuit, Newgarden has confidence that the No. 2 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Chevrolet will be ready to take-on the flowing 2.3-mile, 17-turn permanent road course.
NBCSN will telecast the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by America’s First live at 2 p.m. CT Sunday.
“It’s a wide but tricky track with a fun crowd, always ready for racing,” said Newgarden, who is fifth in the series standings after two races. “We’re ready to take the Fitzgerald Glider Kits Chevy there with the goal of another top five in mind.”
Team Penske drivers have won four of the seven Verizon IndyCar Series races at the scenic, but technically challenging, race course, including Helio Castroneves in 2010, Will Power in 2011 and ’12, and Simon Pagenaud in 2016. Castroneves (2012, ’15), Power (2010, 2011, 2014), and Pagenaud (2016) have combined to earn the pole position six times.
Pagenaud rode a wave of five victories to the 2016 driver title, and his dominating performance in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama was the middle peg in three consecutive race wins. Pagenaud, who also carries momentum into the weekend, is third in the driver standings.
“The layout is beautiful with lots of elevation changes; it’s a very challenging track both physically and technically,” said Pagenaud, who led 84 of 90 laps at Barber last year. “We tested there in March and we found answers to a lot of our technical questions. After the first two races, let’s say the Menards Chevrolet team went through a lot and still managed to bring a lot of points to classify third in the championship.
“We continue to keep our heads down and work toward our return to Victory Lane.”
Zach Veach will make his Verizon IndyCar Series debut, substituting for regular driver JR Hildebrand in the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing. Hildebrand, who sustained a fractured bone in his left hand during the April 9 race at Long Beach, is recovering from surgery done on April 11.
“I’m disappointed for the team to be out this weekend, but am looking forward to doing everything I can at Barber to help continue the progress we’ve made so far this year,” said Hildebrand, who has 13th- and 11th-place finishes this season. “I am continuing to rehab with maximum focus to be back in the saddle for Phoenix (April 29).”
Veach, 22, of Stockdale, Ohio, is a six-time winner in Indy Lights competition, including the 2014 race at Barber Motorsports Park. He is scheduled to drive for A.J. Foyt Racing in the 101st Indianapolis 500 in May.
“This isn’t how any driver wants to get his first race, but with that said I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity to sub for JR,” Veach said. “Ed (Carpenter) gave me my first chance to test an Indy car a few months ago. It’s going to be very special for me to be back in that same car representing Fuzzy’s Vodka at Barber. It’s going to be a lot to take in in a short amount of time, but I’m really excited to do the best I can.”
Ed Carpenter Racing teammate Spencer Pigot, No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet, also will be competing at Barber for the first time in a Verizon IndyCar Series race, though he won two Indy Lights (2015) races and two Pro Mazda (2014) races on the road course